Blogs from Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia, Asia


Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba July 19th 2013

Horas ! The chaos in the baggage claim area of Medan airport gave us a taste of things to come in Sumatra. We exited to a barrage of locals, taxi drivers and tour operators offering to 'help'; and for once we were really glad to have arranged for a driver to meet us to take us directly down south towards Danau Toba. We were escorted through the crowds and spent the next hour and a half in grid locked traffic on the outskirts of Medan. Eventually we reached countryside but were still caught in a stream of traffic of cars, lorries, motorcycles and becaks all the way down to the shores of Danau Toba. Our driver seemed to enjoy weaving in and out of the motorbikes and overtaking on sharp bends, blasting away at his horn ... read more
Dokan Village, near Berastagi
Gunung Leuser National Park
Reef off Gapang, Pulau Weh

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba June 21st 2013

"You might find it difficult to leave." So said LP, about Lake Toba, my next destination. Having already travelled my fair share and compared notes against LP and Wikitravel's sometimes overly-generous hyperboles, you couldn't blame me for initially being somewhat skeptical. In any case, there was first the small matter of a 20h bus-ride-from-hell to deal with, crossing from Bukittingi in West Sumatra to Parapat in the North. I normally try to break up such crazy bus rides, but it seemed there weren't any particular places of note that would have been natural stopping points in between, while a domestic flight would have entailed much back-trekking, and ultimately maybe even more time (and of course, money). And this trans-Sumatran journey seemed to be part of the whole backpackers' experience, so I gritted my teeth and just ... read more
Traditional Batak Song & Dance
Wow, wow, wow...
Brutal Bus Ride from Bukittingi to Parapat

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba October 21st 2012

After weeks of frantic preparation, my World Tour Number 3 was underway. Leaving friends and family behind once again to explore far flung countries, climb mountains, discover exotic foods and hack through jungles with my trusty machete. And not forgetting the less glamorous side of squat toilets, sunburn and mosquito bites. In the week prior to my departure, my preparation had mainly consisted of eating all the food and drink I would be missing on my travels. My last Roast Dinner. My last Bacon Sandwich. My last pint of English Ale (actually, i had quite a few "last ones" of those). Each meal was eaten with great ceremony and reverence, although it was actually just an excuse for a week of gluttony. By the end I was like a fat little seal with an extra layer ... read more
The biggest Mosque in Medan
Zena and The Pavement of Doom
Room with a view

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba October 16th 2012

Location: Inner Sumatra. Date: Millions of years ago. What happened? A catastrophic volcanic blast created basically the largest crater on Earth, which over time with the help of rivers and rain became Lake Toba! A large island rests in the middle of the lake, laced with jungle, and home to the friendly Batak people who possess a mysterious past... And that's exactly where I'm headed. So, hop on the back on my motorbike as I zip around this rock and unveil its secrets. A Brief Batak History The ancestors of the Batak people are known to be from Yunan province in China. Legend has it, they arrived in Indonesia by canoe around a thousand years ago or so, and based the style of their houses on the canoe-like shape. Stone Chairs: Just like it sounds. A ... read more
Stone chairs
Batak style

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba September 4th 2012

Danau Toba Part II This blog is being written on a train to Beijing so bear with us while we figure out where we left off. Pretty sure we told you about our motorcycle trip to the north end of the island so we can pick up after that... After seeing the north end of the island, we had yet another “nothing” day. That means we sat on our porch reading, taking regular swim breaks and not going much farther than our guesthouse or Joe's (a nearby restaurant with killer Chicken ala Batak) for food. With so much time left, we decided we wanted to see more of the island so we rented a motorbike the following day and headed south. Our map had a barely legible written arrow that said “views” so we wanted to ... read more
Tuak Shack
Cleaning Fish
Tyler Riding South


Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba August 27th 2012

Our trip from Berastagi to Toba wasn't too bad. We decided to get here by taking public bus which meant 3 cramped vans/buses and a ferry - cramped meaning 15 seaters with 24 people in them leaving standing room only and two people literally hanging out the door! Luckily, all of our bus connection points went extremely smoothly. Whenever we got off one bus, another was waiting to take us to our next destination. In Parapat, the ferry boarding town for Tuk-Tuk, we met a local named Roman who asked where we were headed. We had been recommended a guesthouse by a friend in Berastagi, so we told him MAS Cottages. A huge smile came across his face and he exclaimed “That's where I work!”. When we got to the island he got us some free ... read more
Lake Toba
Stone Chairs
Riding North

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba May 9th 2012

Tuk Tuk is the first village you embark on Samosir Island. Samosir Actually isn't an Island because there is a very little connection with the mainland on the other side. Lake Toba is the biggest lake in Indonesia, formed by a gigantic volcanic eruption around 30.000 to 75.000 years ago. The island Samosir is nearly as big as Singapore, and the lake is up to 450meters deep! This is a part of Batak Kingdom, a people that kept all other tribes and religions out until missionaries started popping up all over the world. They are proud of their history and folklore. Always a guitar within reach. After Skyes and Papas early morning dip in the lake, breakfast with probably the strongest coffee so far. We got ready for the day, until very late none of our ... read more

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba May 8th 2012

Yesterday we left Penang. Before this we were on Langkawi a couple of days, unfortunately we didn't post anything on the blog yet. We thought maybe it was time to stop with trying to catch up, because it doesn't seem to work out, instead we get more behind. We left Batu Ferringhi thinking it was time for another adventure. We took a plane and flew to Medan. The flight was very short (1h), even too short for the kids... We stayed one night in Medan 14th floor of a hotel and immediately by arrival we became spectators of an impressive thunderstorm. The electricity of the whole city went, except for the buildings with generators ( we were lucky). We saw the most amazing and longlasting lightning show of our life, just incredible. We were so happy ... read more
motorcycles have to be checked out
On the way to Samosir
Nice beds!

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba March 16th 2012

After our beach day in Krabi we headed south to Penang Malaysia via minibus. The roads in Southern Thailand are paved, but they are rather bumpy and it made for a rough ride. Crossing into Malaysia was easy (only country where you don’t have to fill out Visa forms), but the lines were long. We arrived in Penang around 6:00pm, having set-off around 7am, an eleven hour day. On the ride we sat next to a very chatty German who was a retired contractor, I’m guessing he was around 65. He has travelled a lot and now calls Asia home. He made the trip very interesting as he told us all of these stories about the United States that he learned through the “news” – many of which I have not heard. I say “news” because ... read more
Man On A Ledge
Mom and Baby
Male Orangutan

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba January 6th 2012

“Small but effective” appears to be the unofficial slogan of Danau Toba, an incredibly beautiful lake some 900ft above sea level which is actually the collapsed crater of a long extinct volcano. Yet, there is nothing “small” about Lake Toba! The lake is 450m deep and encircles the Singaporean-sized island of Samosir, and though the local Batak tribes-people may be small of stature they are big of heart and rest assured that they all have a decent set of lungs on them! The Batak people do not consider themselves to be Indonesian despite the country being the birthplace for many of the recent generations. The Bataks were forced to migrate from the mountains of northern Thailand and Burma many hundreds of years ago and as you might expect in the case of displaced people, ... read more
Danau Toba
Slaughter Pole

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